Sunday, December 30, 2018

Farewell 2018 and welcome 2019...

I am very happy with 2018.  I got to spend some precious time with my friends from Denmark and my nieces.  Time with family and friends is always the best.  Despite a few stressful things it was a much better year than 2017.  I got some projects completed, did a little traveling, and was a lot healthier.   I am looking forward to 2019.   

My biggest goal for the year is war with the deer.  They decimated my gardens in 2018.  It was very frustrating.  Generally, I don't have problems with them until the fall.  This year they munched through my garden in the spring, summer, and fall.  It was very disheartening.  I will spend the winter making battle plans and stinky smelling sprays.  

Focus on seed starting for the vegetable beds.  I did not have any luck with my seed starts last year and it hindered my vegetable garden.  I may even toy with using a grow light.   The greenhouse took it pretty hard with last year's hail storm.  Hopefully, I can get it back into shape.  I want more cherry tomatoes to broil and freeze for the winter.  More canned vegetables for stews.  Herbs for my olive oil and herb ice cubes.  They work great for cooking.  I'm still trying for a giant pumpkin.  

On the orchard front...  I am super excited about my new fish fertilizer program.  I am anxious to see how the orchard responds next spring.   I am definitely going to add grapes this year.  I am also looking at adding some June berries and adding more raspberries. 

I want to add more flower pots to the rose bed and a bench.  I also want to make another
butterfly bed by the barn door.  I was super happy with last year's butterfly bed.  I have some new garden chairs and I think adding a little sitting area outside of the barn would be lovely.  

Since I finally have some healthy habits for my body, it is time to expand my mind.  My brother, sister and I are going to try and read a book every month.  My brother calls it the FBC (Family, Book, Club).  We will see how it goes.   We each picked four categories and then will chose two books out of the four categories.  Some months we will read the same books, some months we will read from the same category.  I also have to take a college class for my teaching re-certification.  I'm a bit grumpy about the cost and I haven't had a college class since 2004.    If I'm a bit sporadic on my posts for the next couple of months, it is because I'm either reading a book or doing homework.    

In  October of 2018, I was honored to be nominated for the Spirit of South Dakota award.  It was an amazing experience and a great adventure for my family and I met some outstanding women.  I didn't win, trust me I didn't expect to win, just being nominated was an honor.  I was in the league of women all over South Dakota who had made a huge impact in the lives of the people around them.  The experience did inspire me to be a stronger influence in my community.  I am confident that at work I give everything and do my best to make young lives better.   I try very hard to be a solid support for my friends and family.  Now I need to look at how I can be a more impact in my community.  I'm not certain what my niche will be, but the Spirit of South Dakota experience showed me the importance of community involvement.  

Well, that is it for my aspirations for 2019.   I have some pretty lofty goals this year.  I did pretty good with last year's expectations.  I'm happy that most of my goals were achieved in 2018.  As always, I look back on my goals and whether or not they were successful.

My number one priority this year is my health.  I spent way to much time visiting doctors in 2017.  I will drink more water, eat better, exercise more, and go to bed when I am sick.  I did much better this year.  I got a water bottle at work and marked how much I should have drank by 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, and 4:30.  It worked very well.  I tried to stick to my workout routine.  At work; two cardio days and 2 weight lifting days.   At home, every Sunday Ella and I went running or snowshoeing.   I am certain that has a lot to do with why I was not sick.  I did make it a point to get rest if I felt even the beginnings of a sore throat.  I can say that I ate better, but not in a healthy way. I found all sorts of wonderful recipes for babka and  other yummy foods.  Three out of 4 isn't bad.  

I want to spend a week off with my husband.  Normally, every year we take a week off and do projects together.  Our timing was off in 2017 and it didn't happen.  I missed it terribly.  My husband is my strength.  We have fun together and I look forward to our time with each other.  We actually took a couple of weeks off together and it was great.  We took some time in the summer and some time during hunting season.  After 24 years of marriage I can honestly say our marriage is even better than when we were kids starting out.  We still have the passion and same sense of direction that brought us together years ago.   

 Home improvements are again on the list.  This will be our 15th year in the cabin and it is time to spruce things  up. I am hoping to host several visitors this summer and I want them to be comfortable.  I am not going to wait until the last minute and will start in January.  This goal was pretty successful.  I finally got the bathrooms painted.  We had the house stained.  I repainted the front door a color we actually like.  We also had the stairs from the garage redone, as they were in terrible shape. There were a couple of things on the list I didn't get completed, but still things are fresher than before.   We had quite a few visitors this summer and I hope they were comfortable.  

To successfully implement a strawberry bed, more grapes, and add a shrub bed. I haven't had a good strawberry bed since we first moved to the cabin.  I make wine and hardly have any grapes on the property.  Doesn't make much sense.  I need to landscape a road that we took out and I want to do it with shrubs and grasses.   I finally planted strawberries.  They did ok.  I would love to get an old sheep water tank for the bed, but where I had them was fine.  I didn't get the grapes added, but a friend gave me a five gallon pail from her grapevines.  I have another month before I find out how that wine turns out.  We decided to wait with the shrubs and see how the old road would hold up with just grass.  It is ok.  After trying to dig past the top soil we added into the hard packed road, I'm not in a hurry to add anything that requires digging.  

Add a butterfly/hummingbird garden somewhere on the property.  Hopefully, on the slopes in front of the barn.  I had more butterflies this year than I've ever had and enjoyed them immensely.  I am hopeful my lost hummingbird found its way south before the freezing weather.  I would love to have a buffet for it this year.  This project was the biggest success.  The deer decimated every flower bed I had, except the butterfly bed.  I was so skeptical at the beginning.  I was overjoyed by the end of the summer.  The bed did fabulous.  It drew in  many butterflies.  I didn't have many hummingbirds and I'm pretty sure my late staying hummingbird from 2017 didn't make it.  :(  Since that bed was so successful, I may add another to the side of the barn.  

Make a barn quilt for our shed.   I have been wanting to do this project for several years and maybe if I write it down I will get on it.  Simply stated; It did not even come close to happening.   

I added a birding goal for 2018.  I tried to take a photo of every bird I logged.  That little addition made it extra hard.   I had 65 photographed birds and 72 total.  It was a good birding year.  I have to say it took some of the fun out of taking photos of birds when I needed to get one.  I look forward to just taking bird pictures for the fun of it.

Well, there you have it.  I am very happy with my 2018 accomplishments a look forward to a happy and healthy 2019.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chocolate babka...

I was wandering through Pinterest when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a recipe for chocolate babka.  What could be better than bread and chocolate?  Two of my favorite things.

Chocolate Babka

1 c. Flour
2 1/2 t. Instant yeast
1 c. Hot water

Combine and let rise 45 minutes. Then add:

1 T. Salt
1/4 c. Honey
1/2 c. Safflower, canola, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
2 eggs
Zest of one orange
2 t. Vanilla extract
3 1/2 - 4 c. Flour

Knead for a few minutes, until dough is smooth.  Let rise 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, make the filling:

1/2 c. Butter
3/4 c. Dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. Powdered sugar
1/3 c. Cocoa

Knead dough and divide in half.  Roll into rectangles and spread the chocolate filling on top.  Roll into a tight coil and then cut the coil in half lengthwise.  Then cut widthwise the length of a breadpan.  Very confusing.  Twist the two half coils and let rise until it fills the breadpan.  Then bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  You may need to cover the top with tinfoil.  The original recipe says to boil a syrup of 1/3 c. Orange juice and 6 T. Sugar.  Brush it over the loaves.  Personally, I wish I had left that part out. Still I found the bread to be decadent.  

You can find the recipe at: Popsugar by Alexandra Stafford.  Her instructions are probably better than mine.   

It is the perfect bread for the holidays.  It must be, as I see Kim at Farm Girl was also thinking bread and chocolate together.  

My husband told me I need to change the name of my blog to:
Birds, bees, berries, blooms and breads.  Maybe.

What is your go to holiday bread?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Oh deer...

I am so thankful that I live somewhere that I can look out the window and see things like these two bucks.  I had fun watching them the other morning.  They were trying to decide if they should fight or just get along.  They ended up just getting along.  

They hung around for about 20 minutes and then wandered on their way.  Hopefully, they will hang around and I can find their sheds this winter.  If not they provided some much appreciated entertainment.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018


This weekend project was paper making.  I'm hoping to use the final product for gift tags or cards.  We had plenty of shredded paper.
I added the paper and quite a bit of water to the blender.  When it was a pretty strong pulp I spread it out on a window screen.  It was easier to spread when I covered it with some plastic.  
I had a paper wasp nest I've held on to forever with hope of finding a use for it.  I put some of it in the pulp.  I covered the pulp with the rest of it.  I'm not sure how it will work.  I'm going to be patient and leave everything alone for a week, so it can dry throughly.

I tried to take a photo of the the cabin with the lights.  The snow kind of ruined it.
Ella and I went on our first snowshoeing trip.  It was beautiful outside.  One minute the sun was shining and the next it was an icy fog.  It was a breath taking walk.  Some of it the beauty and some was snowshoeing is hard work.
When we got back to the cabin the sun was shining again. Everything looked grand with a fresh coat of snow.
My snowshoeing partner is wore out.  Actually, so am I.
Have you ever made paper?  How did you use it?  What was the last new project you tried?  How much snow do you have?